Amazon Does it Again (Why Can’t Anyone Else?)

kindlecountdowndeal_hauntedhouse1_560I soiled myself this afternoon, just a little. And it wasn’t from the pizza I left out overnight (again). The afore stated befoulment happened after skimming an email I received from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I always read these emails close enough to see if for some magical reason Amazon has selected me to be the next instant rags-to-riches self-pubbed author. (I have delusions, okay?) This time, I quickly realized the email was about the Kindle Countdown Deals I learned of this morning (from another blog I follow).

The Kindle Countdown Deals Go Beyond Cute

I hadn’t looked too closely into the “countdown deals,” instead dismissing it as another nifty Amazon strategy to suck authors and publishers into exclusivity with KDP (via KDP Select). I decided a year ago that KDP wasn’t really for me. The benefit of being able to easily “pulse” scheduled promotions of my titles didn’t override my desire to spread my content far and wide.

I don’t like to be tied down. One committed relationship in my life is enough. I’m a child of Generation X, dagnabbit. The man’s constantly trying to get me down, and I don’t even know who the man is! (Oh, it’s Amazon, that’s right.)

Anyway, so back to the reason I had to bidet my backside. On the surface, the Countdown Deal allows the author/publisher to run a promotion on Amazon which displays an actual countdown timer revealing when the promotional deal will expire.

Clever, right? Now the first thing to catch the reader’s eye will be an inanimate salesperson tapping the reader’s shoulder and saying, “This deal is for a limited time only! Get it now, or forever regret your lack of fortitude, you gutless wonder! Don’t shop around! Buy, buy, buy!”

While clever, this is by no means enough to drag me back to KDP Select and its exclusive demands. Then I read the next bullet point in the email I received:

  • Retain a 70% royalty rate – You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.

What the crap!? Did I read that right? I mean, son of a–[deep breaths]–

You had me at, ‘$$$.’ [Read more...]

Kobo Writing Life Adds Free Tracking

Writing LifeI’m beside myself with nerdy glee. One of my largest requests for Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Writing Life, has been fulfilled. Now self-pubbers can track their free “sales” or downloads.

Why is this so important? Well, it reveals a mountain of reading and consuming trends inside the loyal kobo using world.

For example:

It turns out that I’ve “sold” 37,566 free downloads in the last year. This is a significant number that far outstrips my free downloads on Amazon. You heard me. I had more downloads of my book, Fistful of Reefer, on Kobo over the last year than Amazon. This tells me that the small fish in a big pond philosophy has some teeth when it comes to Kobo. I was able to get Fistful on top 100 free list on Kobo several months ago (it is currently listed at #100). At the time it was ridiculously hard to find free ebooks on Kobo outside of that list. Now it is possible to find some via category if you have a kobo device (but not via their website).

Why am I happy almost 40,000 people downloaded my product for free?

[Read more...]

Kobo Store Changes: Update!

updateHere’s a brief update for those of you interested in Kobo (and who wouldn’t be?).

I heard back from an individual within author relations about the current changes going on at the Kobo Book Store. It turns out the version of the book store I have been seeing is a beta roll-out that only 25% of users are currently seeing. I logged out and refreshed and sure enough, the older (and better) version reappeared!

I was reassured that the changes were in progress and that the final product will be much better than the old interface. So far I have noticed that some of the curated lists are beginning to return in the form of visual book-cover-sliders. Plus, I’ve seen a slider for “Hidden Gems,” which appears to be a new curated list (and something tantalizing for writers such as myself, even though all the hidden gems on the list currently appear to be with major publishers).

Reading between the lines of the email communication with said Kobo representative, I came away with my suspicions confirmed that the reviews and star ratings have been nixed due to Amazon’s buyout of Goodreads. I suppose all the realists saw that one coming.

Here is the relevant quote from the email response, “I believe we are working toward creating our own system for leaving reviews, instead of relying on an outside source.” I read this as, “Amazon blew-up our outside source, so now we figure it smart to develop our own.” [Read more...]

Kobo Store Changes: What the #$&*!

koboFor the many of you who may not have noticed, Kobo books (an entity I have much praised in the past) has made some bizarre changes to their online book store that have me stumped (and hopeful that they are merely hallucinations). No one else online seems to be talking about the chances, so I thought I should. I sent the below letter to feedback@kobo.com and now post it here. I’ll let you know if I hear anything in response!
To Whom it May Concern,
I’m curious as to the recent changes from kobobooks.com to the store.kobobooks.com.
As a reader, the new site has lost considerable usefulness in helping me find and decide upon books to read.
As an author and self-publisher, I’m baffled by several changes that seem to be taking Kobo Books in full reverse. I’m hoping these changes are some sort of temporary stop-gap (or a sick joke). Several things have me stumped:
  1. The disappearance of reviews. I realize Amazon purchased Goodreads. I’m hoping this has not forced Goodreads reviews to be removed. This was one advantage Kobo had over Amazon as many people consider GR reviews more reputable than Amazon ones.
  2. The disappearance of star ratings. Even if the Goodreads reviews had to be dropped, why the star ratings?
  3. The disappearance of most of the curated reading lists. The Indie Next list is still around (even though I’ve never been able to figure out what it means, or what the definition of indie is supposed to be for this list), but the rest of them are gone. Reason?
  4. Lastly, the Free list is gone! And so recently after some positive changes to help more free books to be discoverable on Kobo. Seriously? Now the only way to find free books is to do a search and sort by price? Even if I can find one, there are no reviews, star ratings or even rankings (since free books are put at the bottom) for me to use in deciding whether to read the book or not.
I’m still struggling to establish myself firmly as one of the new generation ebook mid-list authors able to make a living entirely from writing novels. But I’m getting there. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: App and Readers

Kobo MiniI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss the Kobo app the eReaders and other random junk. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

The Results: Application and Readers

For my final post on my Kobo Books experiment there is a handful of random stuff worth commenting on. First, the application. I read digital content on my iPad, so I am able to use every application in a fairly neutral setting. Sure, iBooks is native to my device and I end up using it more than I would normally due to that fact. iBooks has a great aesthetic and feel to it, but the limitations of the iBooks store keeps me from using it more. Mostly I use it for opening certain .pdf files. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Writing Life Platform

Kobo Writing Life DashboardI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s Writing Life Platform. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

The Results: Writing Life

Props to Kobo. Their new Writing Life spanks Barnes and Nobles’ PubIt! with both hands. I would go so far as saying Kobo’s platform matches Amazon’s KDP. It is early on, and thus Writing Life is not as advanced. But the next iteration could combine many of the abilities of Amazon’s Author Central and KDP into a single source. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Customer Service

Customer ServiceI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s customer service. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

Results: Customer Service

I’ve by no means tested every aspect of Kobo’s interaction with users of its new Writing Life platform, but I’ve published a handful of titles, changed prices, sent some inquiries, suggestions and complaints.

Here’s what I’ve learned. [Read more...]